Britain will be made to sign a “non-regression clause” legally stopping it from lowering environmental standards after Brexit, the EU’s chief negotiator has said. Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, Michel Barnier said there needed to be a “level playing field” on environmental matters between Britain and the EU and that the UK should not be able to “gain competitive advantage” by ditching regulations once it had left. He said that as a close neighbour, any increase in pollution from Britain could also affect neighbouring states like Ireland, Belgium, France, or the Netherlands – and that the environmental clause would have to go further than in other previous trade agreements. The clause proposed by Mr Barnier would be included in the Brexit agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU – effectively making a trade deal conditional on it.
BREXIT negotiations could be derailed and a post-Brexit free-trade deal could be vetoed if Theresa May does not sign a ‘non-regression clause’ forcing the UK to match Brussels’ tax rates, Michel Barnier has warned.The European Union’s Chief Brexit negotiator stated such a clause would provide reassurances to the EU members states the UK was not trying to undercut EU standards in regards to tax, environment, and health. The French politician warned if Theresa May and the cabinet were to reject the clause, EU member states are likely to reject any future free trade deal between the UK and the EU following Brexit. Mr Barnier said: “There will be no ambitious partnership without common ground on fair competition, state aid, guarantees against tax dumping and social standards and, not least, environmental standards. “The agreement on the future relationship with the UK should include a non-regression clause.
David Davis has clashed with Whitehall over his demands that Brexit negotiators should map out a detailed trade agreement with the EU before negotiations close this year, the Telegraph has learned. As British negotiators gear up for an intense summer of negotiations, splits are emerging over how ambitious Britain should be in seeking a trade and future relationship deal between now and October. Sources said the Brexit secretary is demanding negotiators seek to nail down a detailed outline of a future EU-UK trade deal before Brexit day – a move some senior Whitehall officials believe is unrealistic given the tight-frame.
David Davis is to send hundreds of civil servants to Brussels to begin negotiations on the UK’s future partnership with the EU after winning the first stage of a fraught internal battle over how to conduct the next stage of Brexit. The Brexit secretary and Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator, had a “significant” disagreement last week over how much Britain could realistically agree with Brussels between now and October. This culminated in Mr Robbins delaying a letter that Mr Davis wanted to send out to select officials from across Whitehall to take part in the next phase of the negotiations. It was finally sent yesterday, although the row has worsened the already rocky relations between the two key figures running the Brexit negotiations.
NORWAY has offered backing from proposals to rollover trade agreements with Britain during the Brexit transition phase, in a major boost for the Government’s withdrawal plans. Currently, EU treaties guarantee the UK’s tariff-free trade with Norway and a host of other non-member states. Those arrangements will end when Britain leaves the bloc next March, but the Government wants them to still apply during the Brexit transition phase. There had been concerns non-EU countries could demand concessions over the plans. But Norway’s finance minister Siv Jensen said her government had “no objections” to a flexible transition period. In a London speech, she said other countries had a common interest in the UK continuing to endorse the idea of common rules and a level playing field”, the Financial Times reported.
Norway’s government has signalled its support for the UK being handed access to European Union markets after Brexit, which it is likely to agree to. There are numerous non-EU nations with tariff-free access to the bloc’s Single Market, each of which will have a say in agreeing to the UK’s future post-Brexit trade deal. Specifically, Brussels has agreed to notify third countries such as Norway of trade arrangements being “rolled over” for the transition. Many experts had claimed that such potential trade partners would demand concessions in return for allowing the UK access. However, contrary to the scaremongering, Siv Jensen, Norway’s finance minister, has told the Financial Times her nation has “no objections to a transition period” with “flexible solutions”.
Labour’s shadow trade secretary was under pressure last night after he dismissed one of the party’s key Brexit policies and claimed that the Good Friday Agreement as obsolete. The party was forced to issue a statement saying that Barry Gardiner “fully supported” Labour’s six Brexit tests after he was recorded at an event in Brussels describing one of them as “bollocks”. He was also rebuked for claiming the 1998 peace deal as a shibboleth, a Hebrew term that has come to mean a long-held custom that is outdated. Senior Labour sources said that there was a lot of anger at Mr Gardiner within the shadow cabinet but that he was so far being protected by Jeremy Corbyn.
A Labour frontbencher has described a key part of his own party’s Brexit strategy as “b******s” at an event where he also came under fire for calling the Good Friday Agreement a “shibboleth”. Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, rubbished the idea that the UK could secure the “exact same benefits” after Brexit – one of Labour’s six tests if it were to support the final Brexit deal. His remarks, which were caught on tape, emerged after the Brent North MP had to apologise for claiming the Good Friday Agreement had been “played up” during the Brexit talks for political and economic gain during the same event in Brussels. In a new recording, obtained by the BBC, Mr Gardiner reportedly said: “Well let’s just take one test – the exact same benefits. B******s. “Always has been b******s and it remains it.
Labour has said that the party’s international trade secretary spokesman, Barry Gardiner, “fully supports” the party’s Brexit policy, after it emerged that he had described one of Keir Starmer’s six tests for judging the final deal as “bollocks”. Shortly after Gardiner apologised for claiming the Good Friday agreement was a “shibboleth”, whose importance was being exaggerated, a fresh recording emerged of the same private meeting in Brussels. Starmer, the party’s Brexit spokesman, has repeatedly demanded that any deal achieves “the exact same benefits” as the current relationship with the European Union. It was one of six tests set a year ago, just before article 50 was triggered, setting the negotiations in progress. Gardiner is recorded ridiculing the proposal. “It’s bollocks. Always has been bollocks” – and goes on to dismiss the whole strategy of the six tests.
The British offices of the Murdoch entertainment empire 21st Century Fox have been raided by investigators from the European Commission, The Daily Telegraph can reveal. It is understood that competition watchdogs gained access to the company’s offices in Hammersmith, west London, early on Tuesday to seize documents and computer records. The full details of the confidential investigation, which is believed to be in its early stages, have yet to be revealed. The building is home to Fox Networks, the company’s channels business. The European Commission confirmed it is investigating media companies across the EU over a suspected cartel in sports rights distribution and broadcasting.
The London offices of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Networks have been raided by investigators from the European Commission as part of a continent-wide move against companies involved in sports broadcasting and rights. Commission agents began searching the offices of Fox Networks Group in Hammersmith, West London earlier today. In a statement, the Commission said: ‘The Commission has concerns that the companies involved may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices’. ‘Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices. [It] … does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.’
The president of the European Council has told of how Brexit makes him “furious” and might be “one of the saddest moments” in recent European history. In a speech in Dublin Donald Tusk said Britain’s departure from the EU was diverting him from concentrating on more European integration and instead had left him “dealing with disintegration” and taking part in a damage control exercise. “I don’t like Brexit. Actually, that’s an understatement,” he told an audience at the University College Dublin Law Society, where he was receiving an honorary lifetime membership. “I believe Brexit is one of the saddest moments in 21st century European history – in fact, sometimes I am even furious about it.” He added: “This year will be about Brexit mainly, unfortunately. It means that instead of further integration I will be dealing with disintegration, in fact.
Comparing the newly re-elected government of Hungary to Cold War Communist states, EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans has made a thinly veiled threat towards Victor Orban’s new government, warning Europe must not allow nations in the bloc to slide into “dictatorship”. “I have seen Europe in its different forms,” said Timmermans, speaking in Warsaw on Monday where he recalled having visited Poland and Hungary when the nations were “still [under Communist] dictatorship”. “You are of an age that you have never seen that,” he told a journalist, declaring: “And we Europeans have a strong duty to make sure that you will never, and that my children will never, see it back again.” The Dutch commissioner’s remarks came in response to a question on whether judicial reforms in Poland and Hungary’s reelection of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pose a threat to the EU.
Elderly patients stuck in hospital beds are ageing 10 years in 10 days, the new medical director of the NHS has warned, as he called for sweeping reforms of the health service. Prof Stephen Powis said the biggest task facing the NHS is to adapt to “profound shifts” in patterns of ill-health, by building community services to keep pensioners out of hospital. In his first intervention since taking up the post, he suggested the current approach was jeopardising the health of the most vulnerable, by “trapping” patients in unsuitable settings, which stripped too many of long-term mobility. Writing for the Telegraph, he warned: “A person over 80 who spends 10 days in hospital loses 10 per cent of muscle.
Elderly patients stuck in hospital beds age the equivalent of ten years in ten days through inactivity, the new medical director of the NHS has said. Stephen Powis said that it was essential that the health service built community services to prevent pensioners being kept unnecessarily on wards. “A person over 80 who spends ten days in hospital loses 10 per cent of muscle mass — equivalent to ten years of ageing,” Professor Powis said. He added that in order to cope with an ageing population with chronic health problems, the NHS would have fundamentally to rethink the way it provided services. “There are half a million more people aged over 75 than in 2010 and there will be two million more in ten years’ time.
Elderly patients who are stuck in hospital effectively age a decade in ten days, the NHS‘s new medical director warned last night. Calling for drastic health reforms, Professor Stephen Powis said the biggest task facing the health service was to prevent unnecessary stays in hospital for pensioners by building community services. He said ‘trapping’ vulnerable patients in unsuitable settings has a debilitating effect on long-term mobility and muscle mass. He warned: ‘A person over 80 who spends ten days in hospital loses 10 per cent of muscle mass – equivalent to ten years of ageing.’ And he said the NHS must adapt to the needs of an ageing population set to suffer more chronic and incurable health issues. ‘There are half a million more people aged over 75 than in 2010 – and there will be 2million more in ten years’ time,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
British Gas bosses were savaged by the Energy Minister last night over a £60 price rise that will hit 4.1 million households. In an extraordinary intervention, Claire Perry told the company’s customers to switch providers. It came after the energy giant announced a 5.5 per cent rise in the cost of gas and electricity, with other companies expected to follow suit. Miss Perry said yesterday: ‘We are disappointed by British Gas’s announcement of an unjustified price rise in its default tariff when customers are already paying more than they need to. ‘This is why the Government is introducing a new price cap by this winter to guarantee that consumers are protected from poor-value tariffs and further bring down the £1.4 billion a year consumers have been overpaying. ‘Switching suppliers will always help consumers get the best deal.’
Theresa May has given her strongest signal yet that Britain would support President Donald Trump in military action against the Syrian regime as the two leaders resolved “not to allow the use of chemical weapons to continue”. The Prime Minister spoke to both Mr Trump and the French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone during which all three agreed that President Bashar al-Assad had shown “total disregard” for international laws against the use of such weapons. A Trump official upped the diplomatic tension by describing the chemical attack on Douma, Syria, as “genocide” and saying a military response was “appropriate”.
Theresa May told President Trump yesterday that Britain would need more evidence of a suspected chemical attack by the Assad regime before joining a military strike against Syria. The prime minister rejected a swift retaliation as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) prepared to visit the Damascus suburb where at least 40 people were reported to have been killed by chlorine gas on Saturday. Mr Trump had promised on Monday that he would decide the US response within 48 hours. As that deadline approached, it appeared that he too was drawing back from an imminent strike. The US president cancelled weekend travel plans amid reports that Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria had complicated White House calculations about the response.
The prime minister has agreed with her US and French counterparts that the international community must respond to an alleged chemical attack in Syria. In phone calls, Theresa May, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron said those responsible should be “held to account”. Mr Macron said any strikes would target Syrian government chemical facilities. But Russia, which provides military support to Syria, has said there is no evidence of a chemical attack. Medical sources say dozens of people were killed, including children, during the alleged toxic bombing of formerly rebel-held town of Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region. Downing Street said the separate phone calls established the countries would work together to take action to “uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons”. A spokeswoman said the leaders agreed the reported attacks were “utterly reprehensible” and if confirmed, “represented further evidence of the Assad regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people and total disregard for its legal obligations not to use these weapons”.
A EUROPEAN spaceship is on the verge of finally discovering if there is life on Mars. In fact, if all goes to plan it could be as soon as the next two weeks. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which started its journey to the Red Planet a year ago, is currently orbiting the planet. It will start looking for alien life within the next two weeks. The craft will remain in the Martian atmosphere where it will “sniff” for signs of alien life. This would include the presence of methane which would be a strong indication that there is living organisms on Mars. The TGO is currently in orbit around Mars, but the ESA is currently installing new software to the machine, reports Express.co.uk. ESA’s mission manager Pia Mitschdoefer said: “This is a major milestone for our ExoMars programme, and a fantastic achievement for Europe. “We have reached this orbit for the first time through aerobraking and with the heaviest orbiter ever sent to the Red Planet, ready to start searching for signs of life from orbit.” The craft will analyse trace gasses which make up less than 1% of the atmosphere of Mars. This includes methane, which has previously been detected in Mars by NASA and the ESA.